Taking on Lean? Learn Items to Consider

May 21st, 2012 by DWM Magazine

Although lean manufacturing is practiced by many manufacturing industries, industry representatives tell DWM magazine that many in the door and window segment do not undertake lean manufacturing. If you are considering lean be sure to look to the upcoming June issue of DWM for what lean does and doesn’t mean and how it can impact your bottom line and save not just money but also valuable resources.

If you are considering a lean initiative, there are so many items to take into consideration and window manufacturers urge companies to consider enterprise resource planning (ERP) and how this will interact with lean.

Jeff De Lonay, executive vice president, Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. Inc., Wausau, Wis., cautions companies that when you work in a lean environment, a standard ERP system is going to have trouble. “You can work around it for awhile but eventually you need to find a fix.”

“We wanted to be easy to do business with,” he adds, “so we worked to create a quoting system that our customers would find very friendly with the amount of options that we offer. The next logical step would then be to mold the front-end system into what the manufacturing floor needs to produce product. I would anticipate more companies understanding this concept and converting to updated systems that will work better in this new lean environment.”

He explains that different employees have different needs. For example, management needs to know what they are ordering on paper but on the floor it needs to be extremely visual.

Amar Randhawa, general manager of Durabuilt Windows and Doors in Edmonton, Alberta, says that the company’s quest toward lean and implementation of its ERP system came at the same time.

“What we found was that there were a lot of restrictions,” says Randhawa. “We brought the software company in and asked them to make changes to their software. It was not a small task, and there was a lot of back and forth. But now we work well together and they gained an understanding of how their system needs to work with companies that implement lean. They even told us we helped set them up for the North American market.”



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